Over the weekend I participated in the 48 Hour Film Project in Denver. This is an annual event in which you are given only 48 hours to write, film, and edit a 4 to 7 minute movie. Friday at 7 p.m. your team randomly chooses a genre and is given the required character, line of dialog, and prop. Then it’s off to the races! I had fun this year and I would like to share my experience.
I met Brad in high school theater. We shared a similar sense of humor and an affinity for Ninja Turtles. Brad went on to study film while I wandered aimlessly, usually being found in the bottom of a bottle. We reconnected through pub trivia where I became a fan of his films and he was always looking for an additional hand in his films.
Like any other scene, you become familiar with the other players. Brad has collaborated many times with Eileen from TMD Films and Mike from Plan 9 Studios. This was the first time I met them, but was familiar with their work and was excited to be on the same team.
Brad and Mike represented the team at the kick-off where they drew the genre of “horror.” They also found out the prop was a notebook, the line of dialog was, “There’s not much time,” and the character was Trip or Trish Gomez, retired circus performer.
We were set to meet at 8, and Mike posted our genre on Facebook. So we were all brainstorming ideas before we met. Horror is a bit of a mixed blessing for a genre. It can be fun and there are many possibilities, but at the same time, there have been many horror films made. Most paths have been worn out. It takes something special to be an interesting and good horror movie. We were up for the challenge.
I would find out that we each separately had the idea that the best way to go would be a comedic horror movie much in the vein of Shaun of the Dead or Army of Darkness. I think this mostly came about because we all prefer comedy.
When I showed up Brad and Mike had a really good idea. I could immediately picture it. It was a more complete idea than anything I had thought up in the last 45 minutes. It featured an element that Eileen loved and she was on board immediately. It was nice to have such an idea so quickly. We didn’t have to wade through waters of just stupid ideas. We were able to get right to work and flesh out the idea and get the script written.
The writing process was terrific. We were all clicking and just on the same page. There was such positivity going on that even if an idea was bad or just didn’t work it was dismissed in a way that never felt like you just said something retarded. Come to think of it, the whole process was that way. It was easy to see we were on the same team and had the same goal in mind. It was a great experience that I wish was part of more things in my life.
We finished the script in about three hours. Brad pointed out how that had been the quickest script output yet. The biggest problem with that was we wouldn’t have out actors for another 10 hours. Even though it was our biggest problem it wasn’t much of a problem as we were able to use that time to film some b-roll and green screen effects. Yup, this movie will have some sweet special effects. Around 3:30 a.m. we had done all we could with what we had and I went home, got about 3 hours of sleep, and returned at 8:30 to set up the first scene before out actors arrived.
My original plan was to only be there to assist with the writing process. This was because I felt that was where I would be most useful. As it turns out, I was helpful in other ways and I was having a good time. But since I didn’t have anything near the experience of film making as everyone else there, I did my best to stay out of the way and offer any kind of support or helping hand I could. This consisted mostly of moving furniture, fetching tripods, and any other miscellaneous task a trained monkey could do. I was happy to do it.
One of our actors wasn’t needed until a bit later, so I filled in at the table read. This was one of the highlights for me from that Saturday. It was great to see I was still amused by the script a day later. The other highlight came when I got to be an extra. I had not lines, but I had to act afraid and run away in terror. It’s clear to see the improv classes were starting to pay off.
We were able to finish all the filming by 7 p.m. This was about three hours earlier than they finished the previous year. This was a good sign. I would have liked to stayed and learn more about the editing process, but I felt this wasn’t the best time to watch and ask obnoxious questions. So I left, allowing the experts to do their thing. I was told this went as smoothly as the writing and the shooting. Brad, Eileen, and Mike were able to edit and score the film and turn it before the deadline. Turning it in on time has often eluded Brad in the past on this competition. But not this time. More importantly, everyone was happy with what they turned in.
Since I wasn’t part of the editing process I have yet to see the final film. Brad did make and release a trailer on Vimeo today. But like everyone else, I will have to wait for the premiere at the Oriental Theater on Sunday August 9th at 8 p.m. I am really excited for this I want to invite and encourage everyone to come out and see what we did. You’ll get to see 12 additional films, or go all day and see all the films Denver film makers have to offer. There’s no reason not to go.
I had so much fun doing this. I want to thank Brad, Eileen, Mike, Nebulus Visions, TMD Films, and Plan 9 Studios for letting me be a part of this. You are all talented people and I hope I was more helpful than harmful. I look forward to doing this again if you’ll have me.